Monday, February 10, 2014

Avgolemeno: Greek Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce

I originally posted this on my Health Coach blog:  www.stephaniemcwee.com.  Since it is a completely dairy free recipe I also wanted to post it here for my dairy free friends.  This recipe is not my own, I adapted it from a recipe on the Food Network. I am sharing it as part of our tour of international foods.  The link to the original recipe is at the bottom of this post. 

Last night was our first night for our "world-wide tour of food" in honor of the Olympic Games. My oldest daughter insisted we start with Greece, since they are the ones who came up with the games in the first place, as she puts it.   After scouring through recipes we decided on making Avgolemeno, which is Greek chicken soup with egg lemon sauce. My family happens to love soup- we eat it several times a week- so this seemed to be a great recipe to start with. My heritage is Swedish, Irish, and English so needless to say I have never made any Greek dishes except hummus ( and I really don't think that counts). I have never even eaten Greek food, so this was a whole new challenge for me.
Luckily the soup was incredibly easy, and since I got the recipe from Food Network, it was very easy to follow. I did make a few changes to save time. The recipe called for making your own stock first, but I cheated and used organic low-sodium chicken broth instead. I love homemade stock, but I just did not have the time yesterday.
Avgolemeno: Greek Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce
*Adapted from the Food Network
  • 2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed and cooked
  • 8 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 leek, sliced ( I used frozen presliced leeks)
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Directions:
~The original recipe called for making your own stock, but I shortened that step by using premade stock and simmering it with a carrot (sliced in chunks), leeks, and 2 bay leaves. I let that simmer while I prepared the other ingredients. I diced and cooked the chicken, sautéed the onions and set aside, and juiced the lemons to get 1/2 cup of juice.
~Once my broth had time to simmer, I removed the carrot, leek, and bay leaves and added the rice and onion and bring it back to a boil. Once it boiled I reduced the heat and simmered it until the rice was close to cooked through, about 20 minutes or so. I added the chicken, some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and let it simmer while I made the egg-lemon sauce.
~The last step is to measure out 2 cups of the broth in a measuring cup. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the lemon juice, 2 eggs, and pepper. While still whisking, I slowly poured the 2 cups of broth into the egg mixture. Make sure it is all well mixed, but don't over whisk, and then pour the egg mixture back into the pot. I let it simmer for a moment while the girls set the table.
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This picture does not do it justice.
 
We served this will warmed pita bread and plain hummus. The soup was quite good, had a wonderful lemon flavor and was just a great warming meal for a cold night. When I make it again, I would shred the chicken instead of cubing it (just a personal preference). The recipe also called for quite a bit of salt, but I cut way back on the original amount and simply added some to taste.  Final family vote- 2 thumbs up.  I would most certainly make it again, especially if we have dinner guests.
If you are interested in the original recipe you can find it here: Avgolemeno- Greek Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Week Meal Plan

Well it's here!  Christmas week is upon us- a week of good eating, lots of time in the kitchen, and the last minute rush to get everything done.

Before we look at this week's menu, let's see how we did with last week's menu:

Sunday: Bagel Pizzas
Monday:  Homemade Pho and Naan 
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Curry Soup-nope.  switched it to homemade bangers and mash with peas and onion gravy. (we make hamburger patties instead since we don't eat sausage). The recipe is from our Harry Potter cookbook and is a kid favorite:-)
Thursday: Birthday Dinner Chili bar: vegetarian chili, meat chili, and all the fixings.
 Friday: Smoked Salmon- nope.  Changed it to my Christmas Salmon, sautéed kale, and roasted red potatoes.

 4 out of 6 isn't too bad.  We still ate at home, still had home cooked meals and that is what is important.  For breakfasts and lunches we deviated a little bit, but for the most part the planned menu was pretty close. All the meals worked out well because I also added a few meals to my freezer stockpile.  We made extra hamburger patties so I wrapped them individually in parchment paper and froze them for lunches or meals.  We have 2 meal size servings of chili and 1 large jar of black bean soup in the freezer as well. Cook once, eat twice!


This week's menu:
Sunday: Pizzas (my girls LOVE homemade pizzas and they are so easy), oven baked zucchini spears.

Monday: Quinoa bites, broccoli, Portobello fries (trying out 2 new recipes).

Tuesday: Christmas Eve at Mom and Dad's: She is making Beef Bourguignon. We are bringing garlicky Kale on crostini and crab cakes.

Wednesday: I host Christmas dinner: fresh organic turkey, roasted red potatoes, baby peas, roasted carrots, cornbread stuffing, homemade cranberry orange relish, gravy, rolls. My husband might make shrimp cocktail, and we will have some appetizers before dinner as well.

Thursday: Leftovers- probably open face turkey sandwiches:-)

Friday: Chicken Curry soup OR Beef curry.  Haven't decided yet on which kind of curry we want.

Saturday: planning and shopping for New Year's Week and friends coming to visit.

Breakfasts and lunches aren't planned this week since both my husband and I are off from work. 

 Just looking at this menu is making me hungry! Time to go bake some more cookies, and wrap some gifts.

Until next time:
Have a Happy Healthy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Juicing

For my birthday this past summer I decided I wanted a  Breville Juicer.  I really had no idea what to do with it, just that I wanted to begin to make my own juice.  The idea of green juice was intriguing to me, even though I had never had it before.  My ever-so-patient husband yet again went along with one of my whims and for my birthday I became the proud owner of this fancy new machine. 


Isn't it pretty?

On the way home from buying this we stopped by Whole Foods and picked some up some fruit to practice with. Since we really had no idea what we were doing, we decided to start simple.  Our first juice ever was apple pineapple.  I believe the recipe was 1 pineapple and 4 apples.
Green apples have a lower sugar content than other types of apples, and are therefore better for juicing.
 
 
 
I am not going to lie, at first I was a little skeptical because of the smell.  It had an earthy scent to it.  It wasn't a bad smell at all, just not what we are used to smelling when it comes to juice.  Because there is no added sugar or water, you smell the fruits, not the sugar. My girls tried it with no hesitation and loved it.  I have to say that on a hot summer day, this juice is amazing.  It would also make great homemade Popsicles for the kids.
 
 
We have since tried several more recipes and have started making up our own as we go along. We recently started phasing out fruit and just juicing vegetables. 


I wanted to share some of our favorites with you:

 Pineapple, 1/2 lemon, 3 green apples, 1/4 cucumber and a small handful of parsley. Split 3 ways of made the perfect portion sizes for kids.  This one was my 3 year olds.

You can juice a lemon with the skin on, as long as it is organic.
 
 

Strawberry Watermelon:  1/4 watermelon (no rind of course) and a cup of fresh hulled strawberries. One of my personal summer favorites. 
Watermelons yield a lot of juice since they are mostly water.
 
Mango Limeade: I believe this recipe was 1 mango and 2 apples, 1/2 lime..
Make sure your mangoes are ripe or this juice will be very tart.
 
 
Our first ever attempt at a "green" juice.  It came out a little less green and a little more brown, but it was still very good.
Immune Support
handful parsley, 3 kale leaves, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cucumber, 2 green apples.
I add ice to my juice because I prefer it very cold.
 
 
This one is my personal favorite.  I absolutely love juiced carrots- they give you an energy boost that you can't get anywhere else.
 
 4 green apples, 3 large carrots, 4 stalks celery.
We juice for more than 1 person and we use small apples.  If you are juicing only for yourself, cut this recipe in half.
 
 
Pineapple, 1 large honey crisp apple, 4 oranges peeled. So good, especially for kids!
Juices that are mostly fruit do have a high sugar content so they are not good for daily consumption.  For kids, I would cut them with water or ice. Any leftovers you can make into Popsicles.
 
"we stayed up way too late and need an energy boost" juice: 4 stalks celery with leaves, 3 carrots, 3 green apples, 1/4 of a lemon, quarter size slice of fresh ginger.
When juicing be sure to only use organic fruits and vegetables.
 
 
My newest juice concoction: kale, apple, orange, celery, lemon. I love the bright green color of this one. 
When juicing lemons, only use 1/4 unless you want a strong lemon flavor.
 
We juice roughly 3 times a week so far.  If one of us is feeling run down we may add an extra day to boost our nutrients and help kick our immune system into gear.  You should drink your juice on an empty stomach in order to properly absorb the phytonutrients in the juice.  If you have never juiced before, I recommend starting simple like we did with just two kinds of fruit.  Work your way up to green juices, as they have a much stronger flavor.  Also remember that juices are not low calorie, so don't over do them. 
 
As for the expense- it can be a little pricey if you are buying tons of overpriced fruits and vegetables and not using them.  Keep it simple and buy in bulk.  Juice fruits and vegetables you  like. We buy carrots, celery, kale, apples, oranges, lemons in bulk.  Those are basic ingredients to make some very delicious juice combinations.  I also always have ginger and garlic on hand so I can throw those into a juice if I need to. (garlic and ginger are both immune boosting). We will get a pineapple occasionally if they are priced well. I also buy cucumbers to juice but usually the girls eat those before we get the chance.  You don't need to go overboard to get the benefits.
 
If you have any questions about juicing please feel free to contact me. I will try to answer any questions as  best as I can.
 
Until next time:
 
Happy, Healthy Cooking!
 
 
 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Week Meal Plan

As of today we have just a little more than a week until Christmas.  I don't know about anyone else, but I know that I am definitely feeling the holiday crunch this week.  With all that is left to get done, time feels as though it is quickly slipping away.  Not only is Christmas next week, but my oldest daughter's birthday is this week so we get a double whammy this time of year. 

To make my life just a little bit easier, I made sure to take the time and make our weekly meal plan yesterday morning.  We do try to meal plan every week, and some weeks we are a little better organized than others. We follow the Nutritarian  lifestyle ( I will write a post on that later this week), which makes meal planning a little easier in my opinion. Basically that means we eat foods based on their nutritional value. Our diet is filled with greens, fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, high quality grains, smaller amounts of animal protein - eggs, turkey, beef, fish mostly.  The idea of this way of eating is that 90% of the time you eat very well, 10% of the time you can indulge. It works well for us as a family and is pretty easy to follow.  I have learned to cook more foods that I never thought of trying, and my girls will eat just about any vegetable I put on their plate.  Except Brussel sprouts. None of us like Brussel sprouts.

On our meal plan we try to include a new recipe, a family favorite, something easy, a crock pot meal, and one big Sunday style family dinner.  Not this week.  This week the idea is to keep it simple.

On the menu:
Sunday: Bagel Pizzas (made by my oldest) and a movie night
Monday:  Homemade Pho 
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Curry Soup ( we are going to use turkey since I have some in the freezer)
Thursday: Birthday Dinner! She has chosen to have a Chili Bar.
Friday: Smoked Salmon, roasted veggies, wild rice pilaf.
Saturday: We don't usually plan Saturday's meals.

I realize there are 3 soups on the menu this week.  The thing is my girls and my husband love soup, especially this time of year.  Soups can be a complete meal all on their own, which make them great for busy weeks.


Breakfasts and lunches are just as important to plan during busy weeks. A good breakfast will keep cravings away and give you a great nutritional start to the day. I don't normally plan our breakfasts, but we are trying to make our mornings a little less crazy by planning ahead.

Monday: Green Juice, cereal w/almond milk and a banana
Tuesday: Homemade slow cooker oatmeal
Wednesday: Homemade juice, overnight oats
Thursday: Cinnamon rolls for our oldest daughter's Birthday breakfast.
Friday: Homemade juice, oatmeal or cereal

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday mornings we make homemade juice. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we make green monster smoothies.

Lunches:
 For lunches the girls will have sandwiches (pb&j or peanut butter and banana), a snack plate (veggies, cheese, crackers, fruit), or veggie pasta. 
For the grownups:  My current favorite lunch is: 1 egg fried in coconut oil topped with sautéed greens (kale or Swiss chard) served on toasted Ezekiel bread.  Otherwise it is leftovers.

Saturday we will plan for Christmas week and do our shopping.

Dinnertime is the time of day that my husband and I get to enjoy a conversation, a glass of wine, and catch up with what is going on with each other. Having this all planned out will ensure that our meal time is less stressful, and that we still eat well balanced meals. 

Other posts coming up this week:
Juicing
What is the Nutritarian Lifestyle?
Biscuits and Gravy
Favorite Christmas recipes

Until next time,
~Happy, Healthy Cooking!